Textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen said of Dorothy Liebes that she was “assured and convincing enough to persuade clients to their best effort.”  This quality is evident in her work with Kenwood Mills, who engaged her in 1950 as a stylist for their blankets. Blankets might have seemed limited in scope for a designer like Liebes: She was famous for her unusual combinations of materials, but all-wool blankets were preferred; her client also exhorted her to avoid complex weave structures. Kenwood sold blankets to department stores and other retail outlets, but also to hotels and hospitals, so the products were required to be affordable, durable, and marketable to customers with wide-ranging needs (Figs. 1–3).
“We have approached the problem from three angles—color, the binding, and the stitchery,” Liebes wrote to her contact at Kenwood. “After all, there is nothing much else.”  She approached each element with rigor. She conducted market research and experimented with various materials for the binding—satin, taffeta, velvet, and printed cottons for children’s blankets—in widths varying from three to five inches. She worked with a ribbon manufacturer to develop a Greek fret–style pattern, incorporating a K to distinguish Kenwood’s blankets from those of its competitors. She also incorporated a stripe of silver Lurex in the binding as a brand signature (and yet another example of cross-promotion for two of her clients). She provided lists of color names and even advised on the blankets’ packaging. 
By 1953, Kenwood was sufficiently convinced of the value of Liebes’s name, skill, and connections to collaborate with her on a high-end limited-edition collection of fashion-forward blankets. Liebes developed a double-loop structure in lofty bouclé yarns to create a texture described in the press release as “whirls of fleecy froth” (Fig. 4).  The collection was called Astra-Ken, a play on the lamb-fleece furs known in the fashion industry as astrakhan. The fluffy wool was paired with velvet binding ribbons. But color was the real story. Liebes was an avid museumgoer and spoke often of the importance of studying art to develop new color ideas. With Astra-Ken, she made this process manifest, keying her unusual color pairings to works by well-known painters: “A soft green blanket bound in gold is a subtle interpretation from [Vincent] Van Gogh’s palette . . . [Marie] Laurencin colors find expression in a pink blanket trimmed with turquoise” (Figs. 4, 5).  Each of the six colorways was linked to a different painting, and the marketing materials included reproductions of the paintings with fabric samples attached, biographies of the artists, and a pamphlet of display suggestions evoking a display of fine art.
Liebes’s deep understanding of decorating trends and her close connections to the fashion industry made the cross-over collection a success. “Your new Astra-Ken blankets have caused a great deal of excitement at Vogue,” Jessica Daves, editor in chief, wrote. “The new weave and the extraordinarily effective new colour combinations have made us ‘extend ourselves’ in the matter of editorial showing; we had reserved one page for this story, but when the photographs came in, we had to give it two pages” (Fig. 6).  The spread featured the two stars of Wonderful Town on Broadway: Rosalind Russell, wrapped in the ivory blanket with orange binding inspired by Paul Cézanne, and George Gaynes, with the black-and-red colorway credited to Henri Matisse and marketed as particularly appropriate for a man’s bedroom or study (Fig. 7). The spread opened the holiday shopping section of the magazine and was reproduced for in-store displays.
 Jack Lenor Larsen, “Dorothy Liebes: A Tribute,” Craft Horizons 32, no. 6 (December 1972): 11, 66.
 Dorothy Liebes, letter to Mr. J. Tracy Colby (Kenwood Mills), n.d. Series 5, Box 10, Folder 13, Dorothy Liebes Papers, Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
 See Dorothy Liebes Papers, Kenwood correspondence. Series 5, Box 10, Folders 10–20, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Kenwood Blankets, press release for Astra-Ken, October 15, 1953. Box 20, Folder 2, Dorothy Liebes Papers.
 Jessica Daves (Vogue magazine), letter to Paul Eager (Kenwood Mills), August 25, 1953. Box 20, Folder 2, Dorothy Liebes Papers.